If you’re on the other side of middle-aged, you know what high school was like in the 1970s. If you’re not, rent “Dazed and Confused.”
With that knowledge, you’ll understand a little better high school football in 1973.
That’s when Temple City High set a then-California record by running its consecutive game winning streak to 44. Only a little Catholic school of 400 boys sporting a 1-2 record, but playing at home and defending a proud tradition, stood between the Rams and No. 45. The host team was given little chance.
Blow forward 31 years and 1,200 miles north to Seattle last Saturday night.
Another school was looking to extend its California-record – and national – winning streak. Only a public school with a rich-kid reputation, but playing before a partisan crowd and defending a proud tradition, stood between De La Salle and No. 152. The host team was given little chance.
I was there for both games.
In both, the underdog won – for entirely different reasons, and for the exactly the same reason.
St. Francis High won the 1973 game 10-0 – nearly every play is still clear over the haze of the years – because an under-performing team pulled itself together and played like it should have all year for one game, and only that game. The season ended in disappointment when a long streak of playoff appearances was snapped.
Bellevue High won Saturday’s game because it was the better team; it executed its offense flawlessly – the Wolverines never passed or punted – and its offensive line dominated.
Saturday’s game will probably propel the Wolverines to their fourth consecutive 3A football title, and fifth overall, both uncharted territory for Washington teams. (Before you write, I know Washtucna has won five B-8 football titles, but the last three have been in combination with LaCrosse.)
The one element binding the teams across three decades can be summed up in two words: motivated experience.
It’s simple and it hasn’t changed in 31 years. Seniors win high school football games, especially seniors with something to prove.
Bellevue was loaded with senior starters who had played a big part in last year’s 21-7 3A title win over O’Dea. De La Salle, despite its reputation and winning streak, was still a high school team replacing 10 defensive starters.
The kids who filled those spots were talented. They were fast, but they were dazed and confused by Bellevue’s Wing-T offense.
More than once they all rallied to the ball, only to find it wasn’t in the hands of the back they were tackling.
Usually it was in senior J.R. Hasty’s hands, and he was running down the field.
But the Bellevue seniors also had something else: a summer of work dedicated to making there final season something special.
The workout program emulated De La Salle’s. The goals were simple: Beat De La Salle, win league, and fulfill the Drive for Five.
Bellevue can check the first one off its list.
•Last Thursday my wife and I decided to take in the North Central-Mt. Spokane volleyball match. After watching game after Olympic game – men’s, women’s, beach – we wanted a little volleyball fix.
Boy, what a difference. High school volleyball, in case you didn’t know, is much more fun.
You don’t get the football team in the stands in the Olympics. The Olympics don’t have cheerleaders, which in NC’s case last week happened to be football players. The Olympics don’t have 14- and 15-year-old sophomores so nervous they can hardly sit. And the Olympics don’t have parents running the concession stand.
All in all, I’ll take the preps.
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